Layne Deemer’s Novel, Life Forgotten, Addresses Younger Onset Alzheimer’s and Caregiving


By Layne Deemer

Life-Forgotten-Layne-DeemerWhen my father was alive and caring for my mother, he used to say, “You don’t know what it’s like in this house.” I hated when he said that, almost resenting the implication. I was doing all I could from the position I was in and whenever he said that, I felt like I wasn’t doing enough. That isn’t why he said it, though. I know that now. He was the only one who couldn’t escape the reality of my mom’s disease. My brothers and I still had freedom. We could come by and help out and then we could leave. My dad couldn’t leave. There was no escape for him.

And then he died and my brothers and I were thrust into the role of caregivers for our mother. I’m the youngest, considerably so, with an eleven and thirteen year age gap between me and my two brothers. But I am the one my parents always entrusted to make the hard decisions and so with my dad gone, it was me in the driver’s seat. Suddenly, my dad’s words rang true for me now. I could talk about what it was like to be around my mother, Alzheimer’s making her more and more unrecognizable every day, but in the end, it was just talk. No one knew what it was really like.

I published my first book, Frayed, on November 7, 2019, two years to the day of my father’s death. A few weeks after I finished Frayed, I started thinking about all that had transpired within the past two years. We lost my dad and we had to move my mom into a retirement home. She’s well cared for there and I’m no longer awake at night with worry for her safety, but I am still plagued by feelings of doubt and guilt. And once again, I remembered what my dad always said. “You don’t know what it’s like.” And he’s right. No one does. Not unless they’ve been through loving and losing someone to this disease. This is where the character of Nellie was born. I created her as a fictional character, but one who’s crippling self-doubt and monumental guilt directly mirrored my own. I wanted to not only tell people what it’s like to lose someone to Alzheimer’s; I wanted them to feel it.

In Life Forgotten, I write that Alzheimer’s is death in slow motion and in my experience, that’s exactly how it feels. I still get glimpses of my mom from time to time, but she’s slowly slipping away and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. My book is a work of fiction, but it’s also very true. Some of Nellie’s interactions with her mother are nearly word for word identical to mine with my own mom.

I thought about putting this book off. Shelving the idea and coming back to it years from now when this is no longer my reality, but then I realized that sometimes the luxury of time can blur the edges, making things seem less tragic, less difficult, less everything. It was important for me to tell this story exactly the way it feels for me right now as I live this reality and it proved to be very therapeutic. The words are raw and the emotions are real and it’s my hope that it helps those who are in a similar position as me to feel seen. I’m an ally. I know what it’s like. And for those who haven’t experienced the devastation of this disease, my book can serve as a window into this world, a way for everyone to really “know what it’s like.”


Layne Deemer aims to push boundaries with her writing. Her stories deconstruct the ordinary until it becomes something else entirely.

She has a degree in Communications with a minor in English and has worked in the fields of public relations, marketing, and advertising, but writing has always been her true passion. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading. Her wish list of books will take her a lifetime to get through.

She resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, Adam, their two kids, Stella and Jasper, and their bulldog, Archie. In addition to Life Forgotten, she is also the author of Frayed, a psychological thriller.






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